Tuesday, 4 November 2014

I'm back!

Felix Zundel is an internship student at Nature's Valley Trust from the Netherlands, from the same university as Shirley, also doing a 5 month project in South Africa. The focus of his project is investigating the effects and status of recreational and subsistence fishing along the garden route, from Natures Valley to Robberg. He interviews fishermen along the coastline, and does beach cleanups looking at the predominance of fishing waste. Another aspect is looking at the occurrence of entanglement, so into the breeding colony we went! It has been SO long since I was last at the colony, and man was it good to be back! Unfortunately, I don't think the birds felt the same joy that I did.

The breeding season is in full swing! The early layers have chicks, the oldest I would put at 2 weeks, but most birds were on eggs. As we entered the colony we came across our first entanglement case. An adult gull incubating 2 eggs stood up and struggled to walk as it had a piece of driftwood attached to it's leg by what appeared to be fishingline. Not a good start for our outing. Luckily the bird managed to loosen the piece driftwood but the fishingline was still wrapped around the leg. That was thankfully the one and only entanglement case that we saw. We did however find 2 dead gulls, one with a ring from November 2008. 5 dead terns and 1 dead Cape Cormorant were also added to our list of fatalities for the day.

On the positive side, it appears the Caspian Terns are breeding, and we hope this clutch will be successful! Little Egrets are also breeding on the colony, as well as African Black Oystercatchers but no Egyptian Geese were seen.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed being back in the colony, all the poo attacks and divebombs included (it's part of the experience!). We will be back in a month to do another walk through the colony, and hopefully will be able to ring some of the larger gull chicks at the same time!

Entangled bird flying with a piece of driftwood attached to its foot.
The Kelp Gull colony.
A group of Sacred Ibis also calling the colony home.
Caspian Tern croaking it's defense.
Little Egret.
Hiding under mom.
One of Phil Whittington's colour-ringed gulls.
Newly hatched!
Coming out!
Soon to be sibling.

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